Reading several of an author's works in close detail all in a row gives you an understanding of facets of the person's mind. At least, that's what's happening with my copy edits. I see some strong patterns emerging from what I'm copy editing. There are some themes that run throughout all of the manuscripts, while others are limited to just one work, but it begins to paint a picture of what sort of person wrote these words.
I've heard it said, and read from many sources that writing is a sort of telepathy. Simply by putting words onto a piece of paper or into a word processing program, a writer can evoke the senses, create a picture in a person's mind, create a connection to people that exist only in the writer's mind. It may not be the exact same story, the exact same images or feelings, or the exact same connection, but there is a manipulation of thought. This study, written about in the UK's Guardian, finds a link between empathy and reading, and that doesn't surprise me in the least.
One of my favorite book series is the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I love the absurdism, the existence of a world where books inspire Rocky Horror-like performances, and all of the strange touches that make the Thursday Next world different from our own. But the most appealing device is that of the ImaginoTransference, which turns the action of a book into scenes the reader views. In order for the books to come alive, readers must pick them up. Characters in seldom-read works are often bitter or depressed, and have time on their hands to hatch diabolical plots.
It sounds silly on the surface of it, but, within the world Thursday Next inhabits, it seems perfectly logical. As a metaphor for the process of reading and experiencing a book, it's quite appealing.
Good books, in my opinion, are the ones that allow me to inhabit and experience the story as if I'm right alongside the rest of the cast. Books I dislike are the ones that kick me back out into my own reality.
How does one write to allow a person to experience the story? Offhand, I'd say to invoke the five senses, avoid telling or preaching, and let the characters tell the story.
The two I haven't addressed sound like good topics for another day, so I'll jot them down on my list of points to address, and wish you all a lovely evening.